The Windsor Star
May 19, 2012
Eighty-seven-year-old Roseann Robinson wanted a coin dealer she invited into her home to just look at her late mother's coin collection, not rush out the door with it.
"I followed him out in the hall and thanked him for coming. I turned around and came back in. He had taken everything," Robinson said. "There was nothing. None of the paper money. Nothing."
She had been hesitant to show the collection to anyone but trusted this acquaintance she knew from Chrysler pension meetings. She had just served him coffee and chatted for about an hour. Although curious about the value of some of the coins she didn't intend to sell them and had only agreed to sell some Canadian silver dollar coins for $20.
As she was putting the coffee cups back in the kitchen she heard the man snapping shut his attaché case and leaving. She didn't realize until she saw the empty kitchen table that the collection she estimates was worth $3,000 to $4,000 was gone - coins and paper money from around the world. American silver dollars and 50 cent pieces in their felt boxes. Coins that had never been in circulation. One that dated back to around 1900. Gone.
She ran to catch him but he had already driven away.
"I just walked around in a circle crying all day," Robinson said Friday.
She was so upset she couldn't sleep for two nights. She said she felt stupid and then she got angry.
Robinson tried to phone the man and talk to him at a coin show saying she wouldn't phone the police if he would just give her back the coin collection. When he wouldn't she went to police.
"I don't think he should get away with this."
Windsor police have charged Glen Gibbons, 68, of Windsor with theft under $5,000. If convicted the maximum jail sentence is two years. He is to appear in court May 29.
Sadly it's a typical case among our trusting seniors, said Const. Julie Hebert, an elder abuse officer with the Windsor police.
Elder abuse, whether it is financial, physical, psychological or a case of neglect, affects about a quarter of seniors in Windsor and Essex County, Hebert said.
"It bothers me when people take advantage of seniors. These are people who have been contributing members of society for 60, 70, 80 years and at moments when they are most vulnerable people take advantage of them," Hebert said.
Statistics from 2005 indicated there were about 12,000 cases of elder abuse each year, which means five to 12 per cent of seniors being abused locally, but Hebert said that has likely doubled.
And it may only get worse. Hebert figures elder abuse cases in Windsor will only grow as the area - with its low cost of living and mild climate - attracts more retirees.
"Elder abuse is one of the most under-reported forms of abuse if not the most underreported because 90 per cent of elderly people are abused by somebody they know, either a caregiver or a family member."
The elderly adult may not want to get a family member in trouble or they may have dementia and not recognize they are being abused.
Most of the elder abuse is financial and seniors can lose their life savings, hundreds of thousands of dollars, she said.
"Theft by power of attorney is a huge one where somebody who is supposed to be looking after their finances is bleeding them dry," she said.
When you have power of attorney you have to keep your finances and the other person's finances separate, Hebert said. That means keeping track of purchases made for the other person and not using their money for yourself. She recommends seniors keep track of their bank records and have two joint power of attorneys and that neither of those people live in the same household.
Then there are scams online, in the mail and through persistent telephone calls.
Hebert warns seniors to be very careful about who they invite into their home and who they hire to have work done. She said before they sign a contract always have a second person see it.
SOURCE: The WindsorStar
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